Can Running Shoes Cause Knee Pain? Exploring The Connection (2023)/ Featured image

Can Running Shoes Cause Knee Pain? Exploring The Connection

Key Takeaways:

  • Proper footwear is crucial for runners to avoid knee pain and injuries.
  • Knee pain can arise from ill-fitting shoes, inadequate cushioning, and foot alignment issues.
  • Understanding your foot type helps in selecting the right shoes.
  • Top recommended shoes for 2023 include brands like HOKA ONE ONE, Brooks, and ASICS, among others.
  • Beyond footwear, techniques like proper training, stretching, and good running form prevent knee issues.
  • Persistent knee pain warrants consultation with professionals like podiatrists or sports medicine specialists.

Running has become an increasingly popular form of exercise, offering numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health and mental well-being.

As a runner, you are likely aware of the importance of wearing proper footwear to ensure optimal performance and avoid injury. But can running shoes cause knee pain, a common issue among runners?

In this article, we will explore the connection between running shoes and knee pain, discussing how the wrong shoes may contribute to discomfort and providing tips on how to choose the right footwear to prevent injury and enhance your running experience.

Without further delay, let’s get started!

How Running Shoes Can Cause Knee Pain

A well-fitted pair of running shoes can make all the difference in your running experience, while the wrong pair can lead to discomfort or even injury.

Let’s examine in detail how running shoes can cause knee pain and what factors you should be aware of when selecting your footwear.

A. Incorrect shoe size and fit

  • Wearing running shoes that are either too small or too large can lead to various issues, including knee pain.
  • If your shoes are too tight, they may constrict your foot, leading to improper foot movement and alignment during your run.
  • Conversely, shoes that are too loose can cause your feet to slide within the shoe, creating an unstable base that may strain your knees.
  • To avoid these problems, make sure to have your feet measured professionally and try on different sizes to find the perfect fit.

B. Insufficient cushioning and support

  • Running shoes with inadequate cushioning and support can exacerbate the impact of each foot strike on your joints, including your knees.
  • When your shoes don’t provide enough shock absorption, your knees may take on extra stress, potentially leading to pain or injury.
  • Look for shoes that have adequate cushioning and arch support, which can help distribute the impact forces more evenly and reduce strain on your knees.

Even though sufficient cushioning is necessary, however excessive cushioning can do more harm than good.

C. Overpronation and supination

  • Overpronation and supination refer to the inward and outward rolling of the foot, respectively, when it strikes the ground during running.
  • Both of these conditions can cause misalignment in the lower body, putting extra pressure on the knees.
  • To address this issue, choose running shoes designed specifically for your foot type, which can help correct your stride and reduce the risk of knee pain.
  • Stability shoes are suitable for overpronators, while neutral or cushioned shoes work well for supinators.

D. Worn-out shoes

  • Running in worn-out shoes can be just as harmful as wearing the wrong type of shoes.
  • As shoe age, their cushioning and support systems degrade, diminishing their ability to protect your knees from impact.
  • Generally, running shoes should be replaced every 300 to 500 miles, depending on your running style and the shoe’s construction.
  • Keep track of your shoe mileage and replace them when necessary to maintain proper support and cushioning.

Before heading to the next section, watch the video the below

By understanding how running shoes can contribute to knee pain, you can take steps to select the appropriate footwear and reduce the risk of injury.

In the next section, we will discuss how to choose the right running shoes to prevent knee pain.

Choosing the Right Running Shoes to Prevent Knee Pain

Selecting the appropriate running shoes can play a crucial role in preventing knee pain and ensuring a comfortable running experience.

Here, we will outline how to understand your foot type and provide tips for choosing the right shoes.

A. Understanding your foot type

Pronation and arch types

Your foot’s arch type and pronation pattern are essential factors to consider when selecting running shoes.

There are three main arch types: low (flat feet), normal (medium arch), and high.

Pronation is the natural inward roll of the foot during each stride.

Overpronation occurs when the foot rolls inward excessively, while supination is when the foot rolls outward.

Knowing your arch type and pronation pattern can help you choose the right shoes to support your feet and prevent knee pain.

Read this detailed article on different other causes of knee pain.

B. Tips for selecting the right shoe

Sufficient cushioning and support

Choose running shoes that provide adequate cushioning and support for your feet. This can help absorb impact forces and protect your knees from excessive stress.

Runners with high arches or who supinate typically require shoes with more cushioning, while those with flat feet or who overpronate may need additional support or stability features.

Proper fit and sizing

A proper fit is crucial for preventing knee pain related to running shoes.

Visit a specialty running store where trained staff can measure your feet and recommend shoes based on your specific needs.

Remember that your feet may swell during a run, so try on shoes later in the day when your feet are at their largest.

There should be enough room to wiggle your toes, but not so much that your feet slide inside the shoe.

Appropriate shoe type for your running style and terrain

Different running shoes cater to various running styles and terrains.

Road running shoes are designed for pavement and provide cushioning and stability for consistent surfaces.

Trail running shoes offer enhanced traction and protection for off-road terrain.

If you frequently switch between surfaces, consider investing in multiple pairs suited for each type of terrain.

Selecting the appropriate shoe type can help maintain proper alignment and reduce the risk of knee pain.

By taking these factors into account, you can choose the right running shoes that will minimize the risk of knee pain and enhance your overall running experience.

Stiff running shoes vs Minimalist running shoes. Find out which is better, in the video below

The best 8 running shoes for knee pain in 2023

Each of these shoes listed below offers superior cushioning, stability, breathability, and durability to help reduce knee pain and improve running performance.

Here is the list with their respective features: 

1. HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 7 Running Shoe – This shoe features maximum cushioning and stability to help reduce knee pain.

It also offers superior breathability and durability, making it a top choice for runners suffering from knee pain.

2. Brooks Ghost 13 Running Shoe – With a full-length BioMoGo DNA midsole, this shoe provides superior cushioning and support.

It also has a lightweight mesh upper that offers breathability and a secure fit.

3. ASICS Nimbus 21 Running Shoe – This shoe is designed with a soft cushioning system that helps absorb shock and reduce stress on the knees.

The lightweight mesh upper is breathable and comfortable, and the durable rubber outsole provides plenty of traction.

4. New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v10 Running Shoe – This shoe features a full-length Fresh Foam midsole to provide cushioning and support.

The engineered mesh upper is lightweight and breathable, and the blown rubber outsole offers superior durability.

5. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37 Running Shoe – This shoe has a full-length Nike Air Zoom midsole for cushioning and support.

The lightweight mesh upper is breathable, and the outsole is made of durable rubber for superior grip.

6. Saucony Kinvara 11 Running Shoe – This shoe has a lightweight, breathable mesh upper and an EVERUN top sole for cushioning and support.

The outsole is made of durable rubber for superior traction.

7. Mizuno Wave Sky 4 Running Shoe – This shoe has a full-length U4icX foam midsole for cushioning and support. The breathable mesh upper is lightweight and offers a secure fit.

The durable rubber outsole provides plenty of grips.

8. Adidas Ultraboost 20 Running Shoe – This shoe features a full-length BOOST midsole that provides superior cushioning and support.

The breathable mesh upper is lightweight and comfortable, and the Continental rubber outsole offers superior traction.

Additional Tips to Prevent Knee Pain While Running

In addition to selecting the right running shoes, there are other steps you can take to prevent knee pain during your runs.

Incorporating these practices into your routine can help minimize the risk of injury and ensure a more enjoyable running experience.

A. Gradually increasing your mileage

  • One common cause of knee pain is increasing your running mileage too quickly.
  • To avoid overloading your knees, follow the 10% rule: never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% from the previous week.
  • This gradual progression allows your body to adapt to the increased workload and reduces the risk of injury.

Learn about a simple technique used by Pro runners to run fast.

B. Incorporating strength training and stretching

  • Strength training and stretching exercises can help improve your overall running form and prevent knee pain.
  • Focus on strengthening your hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles, as these muscle groups play a crucial role in supporting your knees.
  • Incorporating dynamic stretching before your run and static stretching afterward can also help maintain flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.

5 Minute warm-up you can do at home before every run. Watch the video below:

C. Proper running form and technique

  • Maintaining proper running form can help prevent knee pain by ensuring that your joints and muscles are aligned and functioning efficiently.
  • Some tips for proper running form include keeping your head up and looking forward, maintaining a slight forward lean from the ankles, and landing on the midfoot or forefoot rather than the heel.
  • If you’re unsure about your form, consider working with a running coach or attending a workshop to receive personalized guidance.

Learn more reasons for knee pain while running and how to prevent them.

D. Listening to your body and adjusting as needed

  • Pay attention to your body’s signals and make adjustments as necessary.
  • If you begin experiencing knee pain, don’t push through it – doing so may worsen the issue.
  • Instead, take a break, assess your shoes and running form, and consider seeking professional advice if the pain persists.
  • Listening to your body can help you avoid long-term injuries and maintain a healthy running routine.

By incorporating these additional tips into your running routine, you can further reduce the risk of knee pain and ensure a more enjoyable and pain-free running experience.

When to Consult a Professional such as Physical Therapist

Despite taking preventive measures and choosing the right running shoes, knee pain may sometimes persist or worsen. In such cases, it’s essential to know when to consult a professional for guidance and intervention.

A. Persistent knee pain despite proper footwear

  • If you continue to experience knee pain even after selecting appropriate running shoes and following the tips mentioned above, it may be time to consult a professional.
  • Persistent knee pain could be a sign of an underlying issue that requires expert evaluation and treatment.

B. Consulting with a podiatrist or sports medicine specialist

  • A podiatrist or sports medicine specialist can help diagnose the cause of your knee pain and recommend appropriate treatment options.
  • They can perform a thorough assessment of your lower body mechanics, foot structure, and running form to identify any issues that may be contributing to your pain.

C. Custom orthotics and other interventions

  • In some cases, custom orthotics or shoe inserts may be recommended to provide additional support and correct any biomechanical imbalances that could be causing knee pain.
  • Other interventions, such as physical therapy, may also be suggested by your Physical therapist to help you recover from injury and prevent future issues.


Understanding the connection between running shoes and knee pain is crucial for runners looking to prevent injury and optimize their performance.

By selecting the right footwear, paying attention to your running form, and following the additional tips outlined in this blog post, you can minimize the risk of knee pain and enjoy a more comfortable and enjoyable running experience.

Remember to consult a professional if knee pain persists or worsens, as they can provide valuable guidance and treatment options tailored to your specific needs.

Run smart, stay healthy, and be happy running!


How do you know if shoes are causing knee pain?

Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to knee pain. Signs that your shoes may be causing knee pain include pain during or after physical activity, worn-out or uneven soles, improper fit, and lack of support.

Can cushioned shoes cause knee pain?

Yes, cushioned shoes can cause knee pain if they do not provide adequate support for the feet and knees.
The extra cushioning may also alter the natural movement of the foot and cause stress on the knee joint, leading to pain and discomfort.

What is the common cause of knee pain in runners?

The common cause of knee pain in runners is overuse injuries, such as the runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome, which are often caused by repetitive stress on the knee joint due to running long distances or on hard surfaces with improper footwear.

What is a runner’s knee?

Runner’s knee, also known as patellofemoral pain syndrome, is a common overuse injury causing pain around the kneecap during physical activity.

What to look for in shoes for knee pain?

Shoes for knee pain should provide good arch support, adequate cushioning, stability, and a comfortable fit with a wide-toe box.

Can running shoes prevent knee pain?

Yes, properly fitting running shoes with good support and cushioning can help prevent knee pain and other injuries while running.

Are softer shoes better for the knees?

Not necessarily. Soft shoes can provide cushioning, but they may not provide enough support for the feet and knees, leading to pain and injury.

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